Canon photography tips for using lenses
50 Wide-angle view
You can go amazingly wide with your viewing angle, even when using rectilinear (non-fisheye) lenses like the Sigma 10-20mm and the new Canon EF 11-24mm USM, for cameras with APS-C or full-frame image sensors respectively. Curvilinear (fisheye) lenses extend the angle of view even further. It's easy to accidentally end up with your feet in the shot, especially for portrait (upright) orientation images. To avoid this, use Live View shooting mode and hold the camera at arm's length, away from your body.
51 Marvellous macro
Macro prime lenses usually offer a full 1:1 or 1x reproduction ratio, which can deliver incredible levels of fine detail in extreme close-ups. Even when using a narrow aperture at very short focusing distances, the depth of field can be as little as 4mm or so.
Accurate focusing is therefore critical, so the use of a tripod and manual focusing in magnified Live View mode on the LCD screen often yields best results. Live View also avoids blurred macro shots from 'mirror-bounce', as the camera's reflex mirror doesn't flip up immediately before the shot is taken.
52 Telephoto lenses
Budget telephoto zooms typically have a fairly 'slow' and variable aperture that shrinks from f/4 to f/5.6 as you extend through the zoom range. 'Fast' 70-200mm telephoto zooms generally have a constant-aperture of f/2.8 or f/4 which, along with their physical length, remains fixed throughout the zoom range. Super-tele zooms are popular for greater telescopic effect, usually covering anywhere from a range of 100-600mm, such as Canon's EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L. Image stabilization can be a massive bonus for handheld telephoto shooting.
53 Step it up
Canon's range of STM (Stepping Motor) autofocus lenses give smooth and virtually silent operation. They're good for stills but even better for video recording.
54 Night vision
While it's good to protect a lens with a UV or skylight filter, remove it for night photos to reduce the risk of ghosting from bright city lights or the moon.
55 Get a hoodie
For many lenses, hoods are sold as optional extras. They're well worth buying though, as they add protection to the front of the lens as well as reducing flare.
56 Tape it
Big zooms can suffer from 'zoom creep', which can be a problem when shooting at upward or downward angles. Apply Gaffa tape to keep the zoom setting fixed.
57 It's fixed
For lenses that feature an 'internal focus' system, the front element neither extends nor rotates during focusing. It's a bonus when using circular polarizers and graduated neutral density filters, as their position won't change when the lens is focused. If your lens isn't this type, you'll need to make sure you focus first before adjusting the filter.
58 Tilt and Shift
The tilt mechanism of these specialist lenses enables you to alter depth of field, from a tiny amount to a practically infinite amount. Meanwhile, the shift facility counteracts perspective distortion, useful for stopping high buildings appearing to lean inwards at the top.
59 Fast standard zooms
These are great for combining the convenience of a zoom with the kind of wide maximum aperture associated with prime lenses. The tight depth of field is ideal for blurring the background in portraits, and faster shutter speeds are a bonus. Two of our favourites are the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM (£575/ $879) for APS-C cameras and the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD (£750/$1299) for full-frame.
Canon photography tips for using flash
60 Sync speeds
Canon DSLRs typically have a flash sync speed of 1/200 or 1/250 sec. If you use a faster setting then you may see part of your image obscured by a dark band.
61 Modelling light
Speedlites have a modelling light feature to show where the light will fall on your subject. Press your camera's depth of field preview button to activate it.
62 Fake warmth
Want to warm up the light from your flash so that it blends in better at sunset or sunrise? Simply stick an orange gel over the face of your flashgun.
63 Manual power
You can use a flashgun's Manual mode to adjust its output, rather than relying on ETTL. Start at 1/8 or 1/4 power and work up or down to get the best results.
64 Pop-up to fill-in
Many EOS cameras have a built-in flash. While this might not offer the flexibility and range of a separate flashgun, it can come to your rescue. One of the best times to use it is when taking a portrait in sunny conditions. If the person is in shadow, a blast of 'fill-in' flash from the camera's integral flash will help to even out the lighting, making your shot look more appealing.
65 Buy the best you can
A decent flashgun isn't cheap. But the simple truth is the more you spend, the more creative options you open up. Canon's top-end Speedlite 600EX-RT might be too rich for many, but the cheaper Speedlite 320EX still offers wireless slave technology and a head you can adjust. Third party manufacturers, such as Metz also offer reasonably priced, feature-rich models.
66 Off-camera flash setup
Newer Canon DSLRs enable you to control your flash from the camera menu. Here you can use your pop-up or flashgun on your camera's hotshoe as a master to fire a compatible remote flashgun (or flashguns).
67 Exposing with lights
When you're using flash light on location, remember to first set your exposure for the ambient light, then adjust your lighting power to light your subject. We started off here with an exposure of 1/200 sec at f/8 and ISO400, which leaves the background in darkness. Whereas an exposure of 1/80 sec at f/5.6 and ISO1600 has brightened the background and our model. Increasing the ISO is one way of 'projecting' the flash further as it increases the sensitivity of your Canon DSLR's sensor.
68 Lights on location
One of the big benefits of a flashgun is that you can direct the light where you want it for more flattering portraits. Try firing the flash off-camera on a stand/tripod for dramatic side light. For super-soft light, bounce your flash: instead of pointing it directly at your subject, tilt and/or swivel the flash head so that the light hits a ceiling, wall, or any kind of reflector before being redirected back again.
As the light is spread out, it will appear much more natural. However, your reflective surface needs to be neutral in colour or this will introduce a colour cast.
69 Affordable studio lighting
If you want to do a lot of indoor flash work then consider a set of budget studio lights for still life and portrait setups. Studio lighting doesn't need to be expensive - a budget two-light kit from a reputable firm, such as Interfit, will cost you less than £300!